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5 Reasons to Update Your Software

Jared Cambra

Jared Cambra

20 June, 2017

Updating your organization’s software seems like one of those preventative things that everyone knows they should be doing, but it is often pushed to the back burner. While time is always in short supply in a startup environment and waiting 10 minutes to restart your computer doesn’t seem like a great use of time, it is. Whether you're installing an automated systems update from Windows or Apple, or connecting with your developer on improvements he’s made to your code, software maintenance should be a top priority for companies big and small. There are several negative side effects to having outdated programs. We’ll convince you that it's important by giving you five reasons to update your software.  

Let’s get one thing straight; there is a difference between a software update and a software upgrade. A software update is something we are all used to seeing (and hopefully installing) on our smartphones, computers, and tablets. It’s that irritating notification that pops up right in the middle of a Netflix bender. Unfortunately, updating your device’s software will interrupt your fourth consecutive episode of Fuller House, but it will keep your device running in good order. If you’re using custom built software, that will need to be updated as well. It won’t be quite as easy as selecting the notification on your iPad, but it too is worth your time.

A software upgrade, on the other hand, will allow you to improve a program by accessing its next major version. An example of this would be installing Windows 10 on your PC instead of the old news, Windows 8.1. Both updates and upgrades are important. An update is a free improvement to an existing software written by developers to better the product. An upgrade generally involves some user cost to move to the newest version.

Go ahead and install that update so you can get back to whatever cheeky drama the Tanner family is navigating this episode!

The Importance of Maintaining Software Updates

The main benefits of maintaining software updates are that security remains on point, usability is firing on all cylinders, and your software is compatible with other all the software you use.

Improve Functionality

Software speed is important for all types of industries but affects some more than others. Either way, isn’t it irritating when you’re waiting for something to load? Feature enhancements are another key to ideal functionality. A recent update to WordPress, for example, has bolstered contextual searches, improved user theme management, and even allows the ability to manage multiple sites under one account. The ability to manage multiple sites under one roof is a huge time saver for developers and designers who oversee several sites at a time.

Squash Software Bugs

Software updates fix the bugs that inevitably find their way into even the most used software in the world. When new features and functionality are created, new bugs arise. Updates mitigate those new bugs that were introduced. Maintaining healthy code is an absolute must for any business. Any reputable web host will be constantly updating their hosting infrastructure. A CMS or website that is not working on the newest version of software may not operate efficiently with new patches created by the web host. If this scares you don’t worry, there is an easy fix–update your software as soon as possible.

Minimize Costs

When your software isn’t running at optimal speed or performance, it takes longer for your employees to complete tasks. While that time may seem nominal, it adds up. Save money (on outdated software and Tylenol for employee software related headaches) by updating to the newest version of any software your workforce is using.  

Increase Employee Productivity

You may be thinking, how do I know when my software needs to be updated? Is it slower, buggier and more frustrating each day? Then it’s time! Performing software updates will streamline the processes your employees are using to complete their work, saving them and you serious dough. Happy staff who don’t have to deal with tech issues makes your life so much easier.  

Close Security Gaps

Unfortunately, hackers and viruses exist. When a new update is available for a commonly used software, like WordPress or Drupal, the update notes will disclose the previously known exploits that have since been patched. Because this is public information, an outdated site is at risk of being infected by viruses targeting those exploits. Don’t become vulnerable to viruses associated with security holes.

Custom built software can be less vulnerable to viruses than a traditional Wordpress theme. Custom software also need maintenance too to ensure that performance is top notch and security is iron clad. For custom builds, using the latest web app development framework is a great idea. Your development team should advise you on which frameworks work best for your particular web applications. Web apps built without any framework are more difficult to update and maintain. If your application is built using PHP, using a common framework, like Laravel or Yii, allows the coding framework to be updated. This enables the latest security patches to be applied, keeping your site safe.

Why Security Holes are a Big Deal

Software vulnerability generally exists in the form of a security hole or weakness in an operating system. These exploits can affect your device with no user knowledge. Exploits can infect your system by users doing any of the following daily activities:

  • Viewing an infected website
  • Opening a compromised email message
  • Playing contaminated media on your device

Once the malware is on your computer, the hacker can take remote access of your computer, steal data stored on your computer, and even manipulate software to perform tasks not native to the program. Internet safety is no joke.

Software Updates: Important for Everyone

Software updates are used to optimize the performance, security, and stability of any applications running on your computer. These updates are particularly important for operating systems. Windows and Apple create non-optional updates to protect and extend the life of your devices. A good rule of thumb is to install updates that are required and even those just recommended. These updates add new features, remove outdated ones, update drivers, fix bugs, and close security gaps for your protection. If your software is custom built and is developing inefficiencies, it's time to call your developer. Your site’s engineer will update your code to patch those same security gaps that exist in sites build on a CMS.

Christina DesMarais from Techlicious interviewed a senior anti-virus researcher at Kaspersky Labs about which platforms are the most targeted. This researcher found that unpatched software most targeted by web exploits are: Java 56%, Adobe Acrobat Reader 25%, Windows and Internet Explorer 4%, Adobe Flash 3%, Android Root 2%, and All Others 11%.

Graph of malware targeted platforms

 

Don’t let software maintenance be pushed aside. While in the middle of a task, it can seem like an inconvenience to run a systems update, but its benefits in the long run far outweigh what could have been accomplished in the few minutes it takes to install.

Engineers for custom builds work hard to update your applications, making them run efficiently and protecting them from security holes. While it’s no easy task and takes some time, these five reasons alone should be enough to convince you of the importance of maintaining software updates. Keep your software running in good order, free of security vulnerabilities, and keep your employees happy by maintaining software updates for your applications and operating systems.

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